With homemade versions of Nutella, you can control the amount of sugar and kind of oil you consume. (Pioneer Press)
With homemade versions of Nutella, you can control the amount of sugar and kind of oil you consume. (Pioneer Press)

I'm definitely not going to win a mother-of-the-year award with this admission, but my kids eat Nutella directly out of the jar, with a spoon.

They love the sweet, hazelnut chocolate spread and would eat it with every meal if I let them.

I've long felt guilty after reading the list of ingredients in the popular spread, which was started by the Italian company Ferrero. Those ingredients begin with sugar and include palm oil, a substance I don't really want my kids ingesting.

But, unlike peanut butter, for which I can easily find a natural version, it's hard to find a healthful hazelnut spread.

When I set out to make it myself, I also was wondering if I could make something I wouldn't mind spreading on my own toast in the morning.

From Scratch

Pioneer Press writers are making common foods from scratch and sharing recommendations on how -- or whether -- to do it. To suggest a food to test-make, email Jess Fleming.

I love hazelnuts but find the jarred stuff too sweet.

The answer to that question is yes, but the kids prefer a higher sugar content.

So, before it's time to serve those quick back-to-school breakfasts of Nutella on toast, I'm offering two recipes for homemade spread -- one that my kids are still perfectly content to eat with a spoon, even though it has less sugar and no palm oil, and one that more closely resembles natural peanut butter in texture but with a hint of chocolate. That one requires refrigeration and a quick stir before use, but it's worth the effort.

Both recipes require a little oil to smooth things out. You can use sunflower or even canola oil, but I liked the extra nutty flavor that hazelnut oil provided.


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You'll need a food processor or high-powered blender for this recipe. The hardest part is skinning the hazelnuts, which is done by roasting them in the oven and rolling them in a towel to separate the stubborn skins from the nut. I don't mind the texture of the skins, so I was rather lazy about removing all the skin, but the more you remove, the smoother the finished product.

NUTELLA KNOCK-OFF

This version is very similar to what comes in the store-bought jar. It keeps at room temperature for a few weeks, but I'd be shocked if it lasts that long. Recipe is adapted from splendidtable.com.

Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup hazelnuts

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

1 tablespoon good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

12 ounces milk chocolate chips, or chopped milk chocolate

To roast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on baking sheet. Roast, shaking pan a few times to keep nuts from burning, for 12 minutes or until deep-golden brown. Place still-warm hazelnuts in clean tea towel. Rub vigorously to remove as much of skin as possible.

To process nuts: Place nuts in food processor or industrial-strength blender. Process until a paste forms. Add powdered sugar, oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Process for 5 minutes or until as smooth as possible. Set aside.

To melt chocolate: In microwave or over double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring frequently, until just melted.

To finish: Add chocolate to hazelnut mixture. Process just until combined.

To store: Store at room temperature for up to two weeks. (Note: Mixture will firm up as it sits overnight.)

NUTELLA FOR GROWN-UPS

If you love hazelnuts, this version is for you.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

2 cups hazelnuts

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/3 cup milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

To roast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on baking sheet. Roast, shaking pan a few times to keep nuts from burning, for 12 minutes or until deep-golden brown. Place still-warm hazelnuts in clean tea towel. Rub vigorously to remove as much of skin as possible.

To process nuts: Place nuts in food processor or industrial-strength blender. Process until a paste forms. Add oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Process for 5 minutes or until as smooth as possible. Set aside.

To melt chocolate: In microwave or over double boiler, heat both kinds of chocolate chips, stirring frequently, until just melted.

To finish: Add chocolate to hazelnut mixture. Process just until combined.

To store: Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Give it a stir before using.

Jess Fleming can be reached at 651-228-5435. Follow her at twitter.com/jessflem.